Vitamin B9, folic acid or folate... We take stock!

Vitamin B9 or folic acid?

If you are pregnant or want to become pregnant, your doctor has probably recommended that you supplement with folic acid or vitamin B9. But is there a difference? Why is this so important? And how to choose it well?

Why is vitamin B9 an essential nutrient before and during pregnancy?

Vitamin B9 plays multiple roles in the body , particularly during the perinatal period. It is involved in all processes of cell growth and division. It is key to the functioning of the body, the constitution of the embryo and the development of the fetus.
In France, nearly 75% of women of childbearing age have insufficient nutritional intake of vitamin B9. This is why it is recommended that women who are pregnant or wishing to be pregnant take supplements at least 1 month before conception at a rate of 400μg per day.

- It contributes to the production of DNA and the process of cell division.

During pregnancy, cells actively divide and the baby's genetic material (DNA, RNA) is built. Vitamin B9 participates in the production of DNA and that of amino acids necessary for cell growth.

- It contributes to the normal growth of maternal tissues.

Vitamin B9 participates, among other things, in the formation of the placenta, the fetus and the development of the uterus. It is involved in the formation of red blood cells and in the proper functioning of the immune system.

- It plays a crucial role during the closure of the fetal neural tube.

The neural tube is the origin of the central nervous system of the fetus and its closure occurs a few weeks after fertilization. If the mother-to-be has a folic acid deficiency, then this process may not take place correctly and there may be a risk of abnormalities and malformations of the child's neural tube.
According to a study published in Medical Research Center , good intakes of vitamin B9 reduce the risk of malformations linked to failure of closure of the neural tube by 72%, if it is taken at least one month before pregnancy. Vitamin B9 is also essential for fetal brain maturation throughout pregnancy.

The human body is not capable of synthesizing vitamin B9, so the body's reserves are naturally low. This is why it is important to consume it every day to avoid being deficient, which can manifest itself in different ways: fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, etc.

So what are the differences between vitamin B9, folic acid and folate?

Folic acid, folate, vitamin B9... All are one and the same vitamin from group B. However, two forms exist: folic acid from laboratories and folate from food.

Vitamin B9 is an organic substance, not present in food, that our body cannot produce itself. It is a water-soluble vitamin (soluble in water), so the body will eliminate the surplus gradually through urine.

Folic acid: the synthetic version of vitamin B9

Folic acid means “vitamin B9 of synthetic origin”, in other words manufactured in laboratories. Easy to produce industrially, folic acid has the advantage of being stable but is not always well assimilated by our body.

Indeed, its metabolism is complex: once absorbed, the liver takes care of folic acid. It goes through several stages of enzymatic transformation before it can be used by the body. The capacity of our liver to transform folic acid is limited and can quickly reach saturation. Additionally, in some people, folic acid activation does not occur well, and in this case, folic acid supplementation may be ineffective. This “synthetic” solution, although practical, is not the ideal solution for the body.

Folate: the natural version of vitamin B9

Naturally present in foods, folate is the natural form of vitamin B9. They can be used directly by the body since they do not undergo any reaction before being assimilated by the body. A large part of natural folate is directly usable by the body. It is therefore better for our body to supplement with folate rather than folic acid.

Where is vitamin B9 found?

One of the best sources of folate is not the most obvious since it is raw liver (chicken liver, heifer liver, lamb liver, etc.). Not really recommended during pregnancy!
We will therefore prefer to turn to fresh vegetables, preferably green vegetables, as well as legumes, also known for their vitamin B9 content. However, they tend to be unstable in contact with light and heat. Depending on how we cook food, the naturally present folate content may decrease. As a result, even with a balanced diet, the quantity of folate initially present in food is no longer the same either on our plate or in our body. In short, to avoid the risk of being deficient, before and during pregnancy, we recommend vitamin B9 supplementation.

Foods very rich in folate : Liver, baker's yeast, spinach, watercress, chicory, dandelion, lamb's lettuce, melon, seeds (walnuts, chestnuts, chickpeas) and mature cheeses (brie, blue and goat).

Foods rich in folate : Leafy vegetables (lettuce, endive, cabbage, leeks), green beans, white beans, peas, radishes, asparagus, beets, zucchini, avocados, lentils. ..

For more information on foods with a high content of vitamin B9, do not hesitate to refer to the nutritional composition table of Ciqual foods, provided by ANSES.

Folate supplementation: when and at what dose?

In addition to dietary folate, women planning to become pregnant are advised to supplement with vitamin B9 at 400 μg per day, at least one month before conception and up to three months after.

If in doubt about possible vitamin B9 deficiencies, do not hesitate to ask your doctor for a blood test to check your blood level. Indeed, you can feel healthy and yet not have sufficient vitamin B9 intake. However, a very severe vitamin B9 deficiency can manifest as anemia called “megaloblastic”. The symptoms are then as follows: fatigue, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath or even paleness.

BOOME’s choice?

At BOOME, naturalness is our priority, especially for pregnant women. It is therefore quite natural that we chose folates for our Pregnancy multivitamin complex and that we put aside folic acid, designed in laboratories. We source our vitamin B9 from citrus fruits and lemon in particular. Our folates are therefore natural and more bioavailable than synthetic vitamin B9. We have also combined our vitamin B9 with vitamin B12 and Zinc to maximize its effects.
If you are in the preconception period, you can also easily add our product Baby Boost, which completes our range of food supplements for fertility .

For more information on vitamin B9, do not hesitate to consult our ebook “Pregnancy and Food Supplements” .

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